Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm Calling for Twenty Ten

A lot buzz about what to call the new decade.  I'm chalking up my mark on the Twenty Ten side of the tally.  Why?  Easy. Direct. Room for growth.  Next we can say Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve, and so on through the entire century if it works out that the Earth is still spinning in Twenty Fifty and further.

Having just experienced my 58th birthday, the spinning of the Earth has various degrees of meaning for me but mostly ... it's spinning too damn fast, isn't it?  Whoa!  How did I get to be 58?  But what's more important... how the heck did my kid get to be 35? Talk about "whoa, baby!"

The past year has been one wild ride -- politically, socially, and all the other -ally words.  New president, old issues, debts, debates, obstacles, and crazies.  Teabagging, eh?  Just too funny for words.  I need a bumper sticker that whispers, rather than screams: Yeah, he's black. Get over it.  The old, white, mostly southern and mostly fat people sure are mean and hateful... and AFRAID right now, aren't they? Don't they know that pointing the finger at anybody is all about PROJECTION (meaning all about their own issues).  Pure entertainment -- as they get co-opted into some fine messes.  Ignorance -- that's the enemy, as usual.  I know I'm on the right side of that fight -- down with ignorance - kiss a teacher!  (or just shake hands and smile)

Meanwhile, the snow is falling and I have 1000 words to write.  As usual, I'm turning over yet another leaf in the long and anxious tradition that is WRITING.  Yes, I'll be back in the saddle in the new year -- writing daily and hoping my writing group gets a bit more solid on the support system.  I'm not a great promoter, but I would like to add some new faces and voices to our mix.  If you think of any woman who wants support while she writes, let me know!  The writing forum is:  We Write Stuff.  We require registration and the process is explained at the site.

When I sit down to the keyboard lately, I'm torn between several stories, but I'm going to finish one soon.  I will.  I promise.  Right here in public, I am promising to FINISH this story:  The Cheesy Christmas Story.  The title is going to be changed some day, but for now, it's Cheesy, and it needs to be done already.  Like two years ago done.  That's my goal this winter.  Finish Cheesy and move on to The Drag Queen's Sister.  And I will not be divulging herein the plots or the characters (although you must have figured something out on that second story title) of these fine stories.

If I haven't said it yet, let me be clear:  HAPPY NEW YEAR!  And may you find health, wealth, and happiness in 2010.

Gotta LOVE Stephen Colbert!

What's the deal when the BEST news is on the Comedy Channel?  Between Colbert and Jon Stewart, the truth is being held in safety for us.

This clip would be hilarious, if it wasn't also too true -- for both parties.  Sad sad sad.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve dawns, a bit chilly with about four inches of snow on the ground here and more up on the mountain.  I still find amazement in the variety of animal tracks over the fresh snow.  When do these creatures prance about the yard?  I miss most of their adventures, but love the idea of them frolicking in our snow.

Meanwhile, Santa has been working in the studio... mmm... North Pole Workshop.  Here are a few goodies that might just make it under the tree, if not onto the new website.  More to come, with some Tim Holtz Christmas Tags added for merry measure.

We're off to Boston to enjoy the season with family.  Then we will mosey on over to the Four Seasons and partake of our own little holiday tradition by staying in a delightful room overlooking the Boston Commons -- watching the ice skaters and laughing at children's snowmen and leisurely poking around all sorts of shops, the day after Christmas.


Monday, December 21, 2009

New Website - Up and Running

I've had a website account at FatCow for a long time and have only used the forum feature.  Every time I even thought about starting up ZeeStuff, Vt again, a little movie flashed across my mental screen featuring the hours of work to create a website.  But this past Sunday I received an email from FatCow explaining their new "drag and drop" website builder.  Ah, ha! Said I.   Or something like that, since I was still in my jammies with coffee in hand.  A couple hours later I had the bare bones of a site ready to be published.

I'm certainly not done with the site by any means -- I have to take pictures of all my pins and creatures.  I have to sort through all the bags I have stashed away for sale, and probably take pictures.  This will be relatively easy, since I'm now off until January 19th.

I hope the website works.  Anyone who uses PayPal will be able to buy right on the site.  Otherwise, I'm hoping to set up a feature where a customer might email me and work out a design or a payment or both.  This is all new to me and I'm hoping few kinks will emerge as the days pass.

Pretty exciting, huh?  My brother, John, says he's expecting ZeeMarts to pop up all over the USA.  Noooo.... don't think so, but isn't that a cute idea?  He's the entrepreneur.  I'm just an elf working in my studio, churning out all sorts of ZeeStuff.

p.s.  You can click on that ZeeStuff, Vermont header and go see the website... right now!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Last Tag Post

Okay... here are all 12 Tags of Christmas from Tim Holtz:

If you want to see them as a larger picture, click on this and you should get a larger view.

These tags are seriously beautiful and will be FUN to make! Can't wait!!  I'm off to my studio and I'll post my pictures later.

p.s. If you want to learn the steps for making these tags, scamper on over to Tim Holtz's blog and scroll through the archives.  Oh, and the tags from the last two years are also in the archives.  What fun!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh... the Last Tag of Christmas...

First of all..  NEWS FLASH!!!

I won a prize from Tim Holtz (my tag and craft guru)!  Every day Tim picks several "winners" from the many, many commenters on his blog.  I've been commenting and reading his entire blog, not just the Christmas Tag posts, for 'lo these many years.  BUT... (you knew a "but" was coming)  I never win anything, ever.  I don't whine about that.  I don't scrawl the famous  "I never win anything" post.  But let's face it... I could count on less than five fingers any drawing or lottery I've ever entered and won even a lowly consolation prize.  Oh, boo f-ing hoo, huh?

Sooooo... it was with Great Surprise that I groggily opened Tim's blog to sneak a peek at the latest tag, scrolled down a bit cynically, and FOUND MY NAME on the Winner's List. Wow!  Just between you and me... and the wreath on the door... I don't even need a prize -- I'm just so excited to "win" something.   I guess I'll be getting craft goodies from Tim Holtz.  Wow!  Can't wait.  I wonder what I will get?  Doesn't matter.  If free goodies don't lure me to the studio... I don't know what would.  But, I know in my heart that I will soon (SOON!) be happily crafting away, carols on the iPod, and glue gun aglow with the warmth of imagination and creativity.  Because....

School ended yesterday.  And not on a totally lovely note either.  I was in my office, reading through a stack of what should have been very easy papers -- the answers to basic questions about Pride and Prejudice.  Yes, I'm one of those readers who often list P&P on my top 10 books ever read -- for many reasons.  This is the last novel students read in my Touchstones of Western Literature course.  I have used it because I think it IS a widely-read novel.  It's accessible, fun, and a perhaps even window on modern romance and human nature.  After slogging through the Old Testament, Greek mythology, Greek Tragedy, Knights of the Round Table, and Shakespearean tragedy, I certainly wanted to lighten up and always hope the students will gladly follow.  After a semester of "men, men, and more men," it's time for a story about women!!

All that aside, I was seriously saddened by more than a few of my students' work.  PLAGIARISM!  In today's world, plagiarism is rampant.  And oh so easy to accomplish: Go to any "cliff notes" site.  Copy. Paste into your paper.  Et vi-ola.... you're done with the assignment, without having to read friggin' Jane Austen, thank-you-very-much. 

Well, plagiarism is also easy to catch:  find a sentence that is not remotely one the student could have written; type it into Google; hit "send"; wait for all the lovely exact words to show up on the Google list. Yes, I can find most situations of direct cut/past plagiarism, and many cases of "just changed a few words" plagiarism.  

The dilemma is always what to do.  Overlook? Overangst? Overdo?  Somewhere in the middle might be the compromise.  The college says I have control here.  I can fail the paper, fail the student in the class.... depends on me.  I can even turn a blind eye and act like it never happened.  I'll tell you, this has been a rather bitter moment for me in every instance where I had to confront the student.  Since it has happened before, I always start the semester with a lecture/plea:  do not plagiarize.  I don't ask a lot, but I do ask them not to plagiarize.  And that makes this incident so disturbing.  Many students did this -- not just one or two.

What did I do yesterday?   I wrote a note to my class.   I asked those who plagiarized to step forward and withdraw their work from my consideration -- in essence, to voluntarily take a zero on the assignment.  I told them I had stopped reading after six papers and was prepared to start again in 24 hours and would like those who plagiarized to fess up before the deadline.  

The replies were fascinating, but most of all revealed the extent to which (a) nobody understands the definition of plagiarism, and (2) nobody wants to take responsibility for his or her work ethic.   Many very good students wrote that they were unsure.  "Did I do it?"  My answer mostly was, "Did you?"  Remember, I had not read all the papers yet.  The motive behind my offer was to rid myself of having to angst over every suspected case.  I figured the ones who blatantly cut and pasted would step forward, heads bowed, and say "yes, I did it."  Au contraire.  Even the two very obvious cases that I caught before I wrote my letter -- even those two! -- said "it was an honest mistake."  Honest? Mistake?  When a person goes to a website, highlights the words, copies these words, clicks over to his or her paper-in-progress, points the cursor, and pastes in the words just copied from that website into that paper --- I kinda BELIEVE that was a deliberate act.  A mistake is when you don't carry the one and your checkbook is off by ninety dollars (usually "off" in the wrong direction).  A mistake is using the wrong fork at a formal dinner.  A mistake is marrying a man because he's... well, you get the idea.

The 24 hours is "up" at noon.  I have plenty of other work to do in the meantime.  I just hope the freshmen didn't go into that plagiarism chasm on their research papers.  I kept telling them to quote and cite the source and that was the way to be sure... but I'm so skeptical now that nobody's listening and everybody, or maybe just "many," are taking shortcuts and to hell with honesty.  Hope not. Hope not. Hope not.  But I've never been accused of not being an optimist -- always with the silver lining, always.

Meanwhile, back at the tag-fest... The last tag?!!!  Darn!!  But look at it!  I've been dying to know how Tim Holtz makes those roses.  He kept saying he was going to post a tutorial.  I guess he was saving that for his Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.  I gotta say -- I can make those roses for any occasion, now that I know how to do 'em!!!  Very very cool!!!

Again, if you want to see All 12 Tags of Christmas, go to Tim Holtz's blog and check the archives.  Since each tag demo file is long -- all the steps are shown for every tag -- he's separated them into easily-loaded sections for those with slow connections.  

When I get done with all the papers -- plagiarized and not (cross your fingers for "and not!") -- I'm taking my laptop to the studio and I'm making several of the tags.   I might not put them on presents 'cuz I hate to think somebody would just throw away all that work.  BUT... I'm thinking I will use them as ornaments.   I have mine from last year. They are so beautiful. And I'll  have some from this year -- equally as beautiful, I'm sure.  Should be fun to see them on the tree.

Off to the races.  Me?  Maybe a winner yet!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On the 10th Tag of Christmas.....

This one is superb!  I love the bright colors and words.  Can't wait to try making it, but I am going to wait.  I'm dangling a the carrot of FINISHING MY GRADES... before I work on the tags.

If you want to know how to make this one, or any of the others, Tim Holtz has two days left.  Wow!  I have to get up at 5:15 a.m.  each morning (but not after Monday) and my first "check in" after showering, dressing, make-up, and ready, is to click on Tim's blog for the new tag.  I can truly say I've been surprised every day!  I'll miss the tags!

Yesterday we had a bit of a blizzard.  I was MORE THAN surprised that the administration of CSC didn't close the college.  I was, as usual, a weenie -- and Steve volunteered to drive, so I said HECK YES! to his valiant offer and we jingled and jangled all the way to school, and eventually back.  It was miserable weather.  Biting snow and wicked wind.  When we finally returned we were treated to a humdinger of a wind storm -- trees down, branches all over the lawn/snow, AND... a few sheets of vinyl siding zipped right off the house!  Steve was not happy -- he tends to always leap right out to the worst case scenario.  I'm sure he was envisioning a tornado taking the house to Oz, or mostly, a big ol' tree falling on the house or flying through the window and killing me, or Casou.  Really... that's how his mind works.   I think we are going to get him some meditation tapes.  Ya think?

Okay... ONE MORE DAY of school!!!  I love my classes (well, 2 out of 3) and will miss them.  But after a month off, we get to put on the show one more time!  Soooo.... cue the music, I've gotta run. Finals Monday and then.... I'm done!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Half Way to 12 Christmas Tags!

I admit that I'm hoarding these Tim Holtz 12 Tags (see below for website) and boxes of materials for the moment school is OUT and I can settle into my studio and CREATE!

I have so many ideas for jewelry, dragons, hearts and other pins; tote bags and purses; aprons; and hats. OY! I could hibernate in that room for the whole winter.

Once school is OUT and my grades are IN, I'll have vacation time until January 20th when the spring semester begins. At that time I'll be teaching two classes: Effective Speaking and Touchstones of Western Literature. I do so love a light spring semester. Speech is undoubtedly the most rewarding class I teach. The students arrive in trembling fear of public speaking and leave with a great deal of self-confidence! I love the process!!! And what can I say about Western Literature, except... that I really do need to find another approach. This whole read/quiz/write cycle is so boooorrrrrring. I'm thinking to shake it up a bit... but then... shaking the delivery would require me to spend some of my precious vacation time pouring over books and rethinking my syllabus. Hmmmm.... it's tempting. But so is the studio! And travel! And photography! And... I've been thinking about cooking lessons or French lessons or even piano lessons! AND... to top it all off... I've applied to be a guardian ad litem for the Vermont courts (but that won't be worked out until next year some time if all the gears mesh).

What I'm thinking is... the second half of life... if this is where I am... is propelling me to be embrace the different quadrants of life: being/doing/introvert/extrovert. Other pieces seem to fall in line -- from writing (which most definitely MUST be part of every equation in my life), to art, to politics, to first and foremost, my relationship with Steve. Here we are in the belly of nature (I'm still in awe of the four seasons, woodland creatures, and my garden) in Vermont. I am blessed with an abundance of inspiration. Muse? Muses!

Back to grading papers, dreaming not so much of sugar plums, but of Christmas Tags! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tim Holtz Starts 12 Tags of Christmas Today!!!!

If you are the least bit "crafty," you might want to check out the action on Tim's blog. Here is the first tag:

If you would like to learn the steps, here is his blog: TIM HOLTZ

As soon as I am free from the current madness that comes with the end of the semester, I fully intend to immerse myself in this year's tag festival! Can't wait.

'Til then, I'm humming along to the latest "Glee" album and working through the papers that became stacks when I got so sick. Thank goodness for hot tea, Casou, and Steve (who just cleaned the oven -- what a treasure!)